‘Manifest’: And the truth is, this show is bad.

October 8, 2018

We begin the episode with another flashback to The Flight, this time beginning with one Kelly Taylor bitching on the phone to someone about being bumped to this flight. Kelly, I should also note, was the passenger in the pilot episode who whined for sodium-free snacks and then once the plane returned, gave an interview to cable news despite Beleaguered Federal Agent explicitly telling them to not give interviews to cable news. For her trouble, Kelly was shot in the back of the head while she was smugly enjoying her TV appearance over a glass of wine.

“I’m not taking Montego Air ever again,” she says on her call in the flashback. “I’d rather die.”

In the present, Pre-Pubescent Son plays a refrigerator game with his aunt where he leaves the message “NOW YOUR TURN” and she has to make something new out of it changing only three letters. Pre-Pubescent Son is then sent to bed, and good timing because that’s when the news story of Kelly Taylor’s murder is broadcast. Ben and Grace are VERY ALARMED, and Michaela stomps off to find out what is happening after changing the message on the fridge to “OWN YOUR TRUTH.”

OK, Oprah, calm down.

Dr. Saanvi calls Ben alarmed by Kelly’s death, but also to let him know that she’s found something funky in Pre-Pubescent Son’s blood. But she doesn’t know what it is or what it signifies. Maybe it has something to do with the “vitamin boosters” the government gave them after they landed?

Wait … what’s this?

So definitely worry. Or not. Who knows.

Meanwhile, Michaela hops in the car and is about to drive off when she begins having a flashback to The Car Accident and her dead friend and panic attacks. She goes back inside and demands that Ben drive her to the crime scene in Long Island — the one she has no jurisdiction over. He agrees, but on the condition that she bring him inside because … they’ve solved some crimes since the flight? his family is scared? he can’t “be a bystander?” YEP. THESE ARE ALL VALID REASONS TO ALLOW A CIVILIAN TO CLIMB ALL OVER AN ACTIVE CRIME SCENE WHERE YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS BEING IN THE FIRST PLACE. THIS IS A VERY GOOD WAY TO KEEP YOUR JOB, MICK.

When they arrive at the crime scene, they are greeted by a bunch of people holding a candlelight vigil across the street, and it seems a man has already been taken into custody. Michaela talks her and her brother’s way onto the scene past the bored Long Island cop who is all, “sure, why not.” He then outlines the entire crime: Kelly’s husband was at a business dinner, the killer came in the backdoor, shot her in the back of the head and only took a gold necklace that she had been wearing. Kelly also had some bruising and scratches on her arms and back. As for the suspect, he had Kelly’s blood all over him and the neighbors saw him running from the house. Sure, he didn’t have the gun or necklace on him, but come on.

And that is when Beleaguered Federal Agent and his fellow beleaguered federal agents arrive, take one look at Michaela and Ben and are like, “COME ON.”

Michaela and Ben excuse themselves from the scene.

Outside, Michaela and Ben find Kelly’s husband who, still stunned, talks about how he urged her to not go on TV, but that she kept saying she “had to do it” that she “had a calling.” KNOWING LOOKS ARE EXCHANGED.

The next day at work, Michaela watches Kelly’s interview again, and notices that she keeps talking about her need to “own her truth,” and is wearing a large gold necklace. Ex-Boyfriend stops by her desk and is all, “YOU WENT TO ANOTHER JURISDICTION’S CRIME SCENE AND BROUGHT YOUR BROTHER WITH YOU?” but she explains that the victim was on 828, and she’s worried she or her family could be next. “Well, you make a valid argument for violating protocol and possibly breaking some laws,” responds Ex-Boyfriend. “In fact, I’ll start digging around with the feds and see if they’ll tell me state secrets. Bye!”

So, Ben is Michaela’s chauffeur or something now because he’s waiting outside to drive her back to the Taylor house to interview Kelly’s husband. Michaela tells him about the whole “OWN YOUR TRUTH” thing and how she, too, had been “feeling” that phrase recently.

At the Taylors’ house Husband reveals to Michaela and Ben — WHO IS STILL NOT A POLICE OFFICER FOR FUCK’S SAKE — that following The Return, Kelly started complaining about how their house was too fancy and that she wanted a simpler life, in fact, he gave her a fancy necklace and had to beg her to wear it. Then she went on the TVs and ranted about government conspiracies, and how she felt in danger. And in retrospect, maybe she was right. After all, there were those clicking sounds on the phone and the black SUVs sitting outside the house day and night. Even the housekeeper saw them.

Housekeeper confirms this and adds that everything has been crazy since Kelly returned: the press, The Followers. And the other day Kelly went to the mall to have her hair done and when she came home she had bruises on her arms and looked upset …

But before she can add more, Housekeeper is called away. Ben and Michaela make their way through a living room full of mourners, causing Michaela to flashback trying to go to Dead Friend’s house for Dead Friend’s wake only to be turned away by Dead Friend’s Parents with a, “HOW DARE YOU, MADAM?”

In the present, Michaela goes to Dead Friend’s Parent’s house where she is greeted by a happy-to-see-her Dead Friend’s Mother, deeply confusing Michaela. Dead Friend’s Mother makes small talk about curtains before yelling upstairs to Dead Friend to let her know Michaela is here to see her. And that’s when Dead Friend’s Father appears and explains the obvious: Dead Friend’s Mother has the Alzheimers and he just doesn’t have the heart to tell her that Dead Friend is dead.

Back in the station, Ex-Boyfriend notices that Michaela looks emotional and she tells him about visiting Dead Friend’s Parents and he insists that she stop torturing herself: there was an investigation, she was cleared. He then reveals that the Taylors own some commercial properties including a small mall with a hair salon. Michaela is all, HAIR SALON!

Back at Ben’s house, he’s busily searching the house for bugs when Dr. Saanvi calls to exposit that she, too, has the weird blood thing, and she’s going to take an MRI. So definitely worry. Or not. Who knows.

That’s when Ben finds the condom tucked under his mattress (do people stash condoms under mattresses?), and makes a frowny face.

After some B story that we will get to shortly, Michaela shows up at the house ranting about shopping malls and hair salons and bruises and soon she and Not!Deputy Ben are in Queens somewhere chasing down a Russian woman. Once they catch up with her, Russian Lady reveals that the Taylors rent to undocumented immigrants, and when they don’t pay them on time, Husband calls ICE on them, which is why she ran away from them. Kelly had come by the mall the other day and Russian Lady thought she was there to collect the rent which she didn’t have, which is why she pushed her away and she fell. Hence the bruises. But Kelly wasn’t there to collect the rent, just to tell Russian Lady that she was going to stop her mean husband from being mean because she was “owning her truth.”

Husband is dragged back in for questioning, but his alibi is airtight and the cops don’t think he called a hit out on his wife because reasons and there’s the whole thing where they have a suspect in custody who was seen at the scene and was covered in Kelly’s blood, so.

So, Michaela swings by the jail where Suspect is being held, and he greets her by name. He knows all about her because she’s “one of the chosen” who has “returned to us.” Suspect says that he didn’t kill Kelly, but instead went to her when he heard the gunshot and she died in his arms. Michaela urges him to “fight back,” but he shrugs that he’s not afraid of prison. If he serves his penance, he’ll return after he dies. He’ll be like Michaela, he’ll be pure. He then urges Michaela to “unburden herself” and reveal what she has concealed even from herself.

So back to Dead Friend’s Parent’s house she goes to own her truth or some bullshit, only to find that Dead Friend’s Mother has wandered off into the night. Dead Friend’s Father begs Michaela to take the car and find her. After a quick flashback of Drunk Dead Friend forcing Slightly Less Drunk Michaela to drive her home, Michaela has another panic attack. But she manages to turn the car on and drive around the block where she finds Dead Friend’s Mother wandering in the middle of the street, doing her damndest to get herself hit by a car. Michaela deliberately crashes into the oncoming car that is about to hit Dead Friends Mother and what do you know, the driver is Housekeeper and Kelly’s missing necklace is, FOR NO GOOD REASON, riding shotgun.

Housekeeper confesses that she killed Kelly because Kelly was supposed to be dead or something, and Housekeeper enjoyed taking care of Husband while Kelly was gone? I don’t even know.

After questioning, Ex-Boyfriend Jared is all, “HOW ARE YOU AND YOUR BROTHER SOLVING ALL THESE CRIMES?” Micahela mumbles that something is happening to her that she can’t explain and the less he knows the better.

To that end, Dr. Saanvi reports to Ben and Michaela that after her MRI, it looks like the thing she discovered in her and Pre-Pubescent’s blood is a marker that usually corresponds to an ischemic stroke — it looks like they were taken close to death and then brought back. If she had some brain tissue, she’d be able to do more tests. Fortunately (?), Kelly was killed just the other day! Unfortunately, when Saanvi logged into the corpse database — or whatever — Kelly Taylor was never logged in, and when she tried to investigate further, she was locked out by the feds. WHY DO THE BELEAGUERED FEDS WANT KELLY’S BODY? I MEAN FROM THE OBVIOUS NATIONAL SECURITY QUESTIONS AND ISSUES?

Over in Grace’s B story, she takes Pre-Pubescent Son into work with her where she chats with some co-worker about her love triangle situation, and how it feels to Co-Worker — as if he gets a vote — that she is cheating on this Danny person.

Meanwhile, Ben is being super paranoid, what with the black SUVs and the clicking on the phone and the condoms under the bed, so when he comes home in the middle of the day and finds some dude rummaging around in his hall closet, he attacks him with a baseball bat.

Turns out the man was just one of Grace’s friends whom she asked to stop by the house to pick up something Teenage Daughter needed. And yet, despite the fact that Grace herself was just freaking out about Ben and Pre-Pubescent Son being potentially targeted by mysterious killers, she is acting as though Ben is the one who should be apologizing for trying to defend his home against a stranger? WHAT IS THIS SHOW?

Anyway, Grace finally is like, “LOOK, there was another guy in my life, but it’s over now and you’ll never have to meet him, the end.”

Over in the C storyline, Teenage Daughter sneaks out of the house while Pre-Pubescent Son looks on.

Later, one of Pre-Pubescent Son’s old friends stops by the house but he’s not there to see Pre-Pubescent Son, he’s there to see Teenage Daughter. This causes Pre-Pubescent Son to be VERY JEALOUS and rat out his sister for sneaking out. Ben is VERY ANGRY that she snuck out until Grace is like, “cool it,” and he does.

Meanwhile, Teenage Daughter confronts her twin about ratting her out, and he confesses that he was jealous of his old friend or whatever. It’s super boring and stupid.

Over in the D story, Beleaguered Federal Agent approaches Ex-Boyfriend about keeping tabs on Michaela for him, and gives him his Beleaguered Federal Agent card. At the end of the episode, Ex-Boyfriend tears the card up because HE DOESN’T WORK FOR THE MAN, MAN. (I mean except for how he himself is The Man.)

This show is not good, y’all. It’s not as infuriating as The Orville, but it is completely illogical, and the central premise of the series, that there are all these interconnected pieces that are revealed supernaturally to our characters, always feels manufactured and bogus and I have officially decided this show is worthy of the Hate Blog designation.

For instance: I know I harped on this in the recap, but there is NO WAY Ben would be allowed to just wander around an active crime scene. There’s no way! And when it was discovered that Michaela — who has only just returned to the force after HAVING BEEN MYSTERIOUSLY MISSING FOR FIVE YEARS — had made the not great decision to bring her brother along with her to an active crime scene, a crime scene that involved another passenger from the same flight THAT WAS MYSTERIOUSLY MISSING FOR FIVE YEARS, the response wouldn’t be ~shrug~ .

Furthermore, the only reason the writers had Ben accompany her to the crime scene in the first place is so they could include this whole “Ben is paranoid” plot point, a point they could have made in a number of other, better ways. Why not show Ben noticing black SUVs parked outside the house, or hear the clicking on the phone himself? There could have been reasonable, non-sinister explanations for both things, but coupled with the murder of Kelly Taylor they would more than sufficed as a motive for Ben to freak out when he comes home to find his house unlocked and a strange man wandering around inside it.

WHICH IS ANOTHER THING. Like, I get that Grace’s explanation for the dude wandering around in the house is that a bunch of her guy friends helped her out while Ben was gone. But Ben doesn’t have a job — a point the show makes again and again. If Grace had forgotten something at home, wouldn’t she have texted Ben first to see if he could bring it to her? And then, if he texted back: “Sry, not at home right now, busy buying security cameras.” She would have been like, “OK, cool, I’ll send my friend Gary over, he already has a key.” And then no one would have been startled by an improbable not!burgler looking to steal sports equipment.


And then there’s the whole thing where the Taylors would lease out spaces in their malls to undocumented immigrants so that they could use their status against them, which, fine, but how many times do the Taylors call ICE to report people before ICE is like, “You sure do seem to lease out space to a lot of undocumented immigrants,” and begin investigating them?

And that thing when Michaela urges the innocent suspect to “fight back” — how does she know he isn’t, exactly? They have talked for exactly two minutes at that point, for all she knows his lawyer is coming to see him next. She has literally no reason to believe that he’s just given up trying to defend himself.

And you can’t just slip into a line about how the government gave them “vitamin boosters” when they had them in custody after the plane reappeared. That is some classic telling and not showing.


As for Housekeeper’s motive for killing Kelly Taylor, she explains that she and Husband aren’t romantically involved, she just liked taking care of him, and that Kelly Taylor being back from the dead somehow prevented her from doing that? Am I getting that part right? How does this make any damn sense? I would understand the Housekeeper’s motive for killing Kelly if, say, upon returning, as part of her wanting a “simpler life” Kelly fired Housekeeper. Or if Housekeeper and Husband had been carrying on together. But as far as I can tell, there was still a house to clean, and no one had been fired — she was still taking care of Husband so why would she turn homicidal AND NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY DAMN SENSE.


seth meyers come on exacerbated

And then that shadow figure from the episode before … so, that was just Housekeeper all along? Why did Pre-Pubescent Son draw it in that one picture then? I would have accepted that it was a way for Show to suggest he is able to predict the future or something (spoiler alert: the promos for the next episode suggest he has POWERS of some sort — WAAAAAAAAAALT called and wants his entire character back), except why did he draw the shadow figure with his family? The only way I’m not going to be mad at this whole Shadow Figure thing is if Shadow Figure returns in later episodes, that it is some sort of person or entity that is lurking in the lives of the passengers of 828. Otherwise, it will have just been a cheap red herring.

I’m pretty sure it’s going to end up being a cheap red herring.

But hey, they’re slipping “828s” into the episodes like this one on a clock in the scene where they were chasing Russian Lady in the mall:

And now would be a good time to mention that in the previous episode, Ex-Boyfriend and Best Friend’s address was 3528 which I noticed in the episode as a possible 828 reference (it’s a stretch, but 3+5 = 8 … 28) but I didn’t mention in the last post because I thought it was too much of a stretch and also, too, that because they wanted to avoid lazy and easy comparisons to Lost they weren’t going to be hiding 828 easter eggs in each episode. BUT I GUESS I WAS WRONG.


Manifest airs on NBC on Mondays at 9 p.m.

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